The AOMWAY DIV006 / RX006 is a stand-alone 5.8GHz diversity video receiver. It’s the high-end of stand-alone analog video receivers with everything you need to capture and record video in the field, but stops short of providing something to display it on.
What You Get
- 5.8GHz receiver with true diversity
- 48 channels, including Raceband
- DVR and microSD card slot
- Selectable NTSC/PAL
- Automatic file saving on power-off
- Loop recording
- Wide input voltage of 7–25V / 2–6S (though I didn’t find this to be accurate)
- Noise squelch prevention (anti-“blue screen”)
- Sensitivity of -95%
Included in the box is the receiver/DVR unit, a short 1/8in male to RCA female cable, a longer 1/8in male to RCA male cable, a dipole antenna, a patch antenna marked ANT007B, a barrel plug to bare wire power cable, and instructions. (The XT60 connector on the power cable in the photo above was added by me and is not included.) The video cables are enough to get you connected to any RCA device, (of either gender,) or convert back to 1/8in to feed into a portable display or video goggle.
The unit is a medium size and bulk. At 137g it’s quite a bit heavier than the modules that typically get used for goggle-mounted receivers, but it won’t be uncomfortable to carry around in a backpack either. The 80×70×25mm size is neither small nor unreasonably large; it’s on par with similar products like the RC832 and FR632. The display is two 7-segment digits, which are clear and easy to read. The left-hand display is used for the band, the right-hand display for channel. Aomway also decided to make use of the decimal point on each display to indicate which antenna is active. To determine if the unit’s DVR is recording, you have to tip it up and look at another LED next to the microSD card slot at the bottom. Buttons on both the top and bottom control the receiver and DVR. It’s too bad the entire interface wasn’t combined onto the front to make it easier to connect, position, and use, but everything is clearly labeled.
The build quality looks pretty good. It’s solidly constructed and there’s nothing sticking out that might get broken off while sitting in a bag. The case is in no danger of coming apart and the screws holding it together are countersunk for a smooth finish. Inside, the components appear well placed and the soldering that’s visible is all acceptable. We see a modular design with a receiver board and a DVR board separated from power handling, the display, and final output stages. This approach probably keeps costs down and allows AOMWAY to use these same components for other products, but there’s a lot of wasted space and the whole thing could definitely be made smaller with an integrated design.
The included antennas are a standard dipole and a patch antenna. It’s nice to see the connectors are SMA—we think the hobby should standardize around this. Neither of these are high-performance antennas and won’t help you get the most of the unit. They’ll work well enough to begin with, but I severely doubt you will get anywhere near AOMWAY’s advertised 32km range with them. The ANT007B patch antenna in particular is reported to perform poorly. For relatively short flights at a race course, you can probably get by with what’s in the box—but if you want to get the best reception, consider upgrading both antennas.
For power, you’re provided with a bare-wire cable that fits into a center-positive 5.5mm barrel jack. I added an XT-60 connector on this cable so I could use aging flight batteries. Barrel plugs are common on Fat Shark batteries and you probably have others lying around—I found a wall adapter for an Arduino that worked great for running it on the bench. It has a 170mAh current draw at 12V, so just about any old 3S or 4S flight battery will last several continuous hours. I found the input range of 7–25V to be inaccurate: my unit wouldn’t run off a 2S battery at all. It would function with the 9V Arduino power supply that I had on hand, but not a 9V alkaline battery.
The DIV006 provides two outputs, Av1 and Av2. Many diversity receivers will let you output each channel separately, but the DIV006 doesn’t have that option. Instead, Av1 is the video output after passing through the DVR, and Av2 is a pass-through signal straight from the receiver. Because it goes through the processor, Av1 provides the noise squelch prevention so that televisions and computer monitors won’t go into “blue screen” or power save mode. Av1 has a higher latency and appears to have a lower frame rate, while Av2 is immediate and smooth. Which you choose will depend mostly on what you are connecting to and if it needs the noise squelch prevention: a television would use Av1, and a feed into video goggles or ground station monitor would get Av2. If you need to view the output from the DVR, you’ll have to use Av1: it will overlay with a red circle when recording, and only Av1 can be used for DVR playback.
The DVR files are AVI in D1 format, (720×480 NTSC or 720×576 PAL,) compressed as MJPG. You don’t need fancy class 10 high-data-rate cards that are needed for HD cameras. I used a class 4 card without issue and even slower cards would probably be fine as well. You can expect to capture 10 to 15 minutes of footage per GB. The TF/microSD card slot only supports cards up to 64GB—but this is analog video, 64GB should easily get you more than 10 hours of flight footage!
Even though I could hear transmitted audio through both AV-out ports, the DVR audio was full of static. I traced the left-channel audio line inside the unit and found that it connected to the DVR, so I can’t explain why it would be missing from the video file. Perhaps there was simply too much other noise on the line and the recorded audio was drowned out, or maybe the receiver I got was broken. Either way, this is an area where the unit worked as advertised. Many don’t care about audio and won’t find this a huge flaw—but some will.
Two features are notably absent. First, there’s no frequency auto-scan, so you’ll need to find your signal manually. It’s not a huge deal as individual selection is almost always better anyway. Second, there’s no automatic detection of the input signal being NTSC or PAL. depending on how you want to use it, this might be a problem. When you change the NTSC/PAL setting, you’re adjusting how the unit outputs as well as how it expects input. If you have this set to NTSC and there’s an incoming PAL signal, it will cut off the bottom of the image. Conversely if you have it set to PAL and your input is NTSC, you’ll get artifacts on the bottom of the frame. It also has no compensation for frame rate in its DVR recording, which leads to video that plays back at the wrong speed. In short, you need to know the video system and frequency you’re using to use the unit effectively. That might be fine for a personal use ground station, but severely limits its ability to be deployed as a receiver to record other people’s feeds and then walked away from.
In my opinion, one of the best features of the DIV006 has nothing to do with its technical spec: the frequency table is printed directly on the front of the case. This is a great idea: no need to carry the manual and no need to guess which numbers on the display correspond to which bands. It isn’t perfect: the text is really small and tough to read, and the printing is highly exposed and will likely wear off over time unless you pack it carefully. Still, this feature is extremely easy to overlook but provides a huge benefit to ease of use.
There’s a 10-minute recording limit for each file. After that, it will start a new file to continue recording, dropping a frame or two in the process. The unit did a great job storing video even when I cut the power while still recording.
The noise squelch cancellation worked well on my home television. This will be a big benefit at the Maker Faire when we hook up a receiver to a 60-inch set in front of an audience.
I wouldn’t trust it to be weatherproof. If that’s a concern, bring along a gallon freezer bag.
The unit gets warm when in use. I’m not surprised, since it has no vents or active cooling. Still, I wasn’t concerned. Bonus feature: you can use it as a hand-warmer after a cold day of flying!
The included antennas aren’t great, but they are functional and easily replaced. The biggest performance benefit can be gained by elevating the receiver, and it’s much simpler to place the DIV006 on a stand or tall object than it is to raise yourself up when you are wearing video goggles. Elevating your antennas can give a significant range and signal boost and enable flying through trenches or low-lying obstacles. I ran a range test with a common setup: a VTx at 25mW using an RHCP omni. The transmitter was about 6ft off the ground, a typical altitude for racing. The RX006 had the stock antennas in place. Placing the receiver on the ground, I saw signal problems as little as 200ft away. Elevating to about 5ft—the typical height you might use goggles at—allowed a 900ft usable range. But if you place the receiver on an 8ft stand at full extension, the range increased to 1300ft.
For comparison, the EV100 with stock antennas at 5ft high was good to 600ft, and the VR01 with stock antennas was surprisingly usable out to 1100ft. The lesson with those comparisons: antennas matter. The VR01 has an RHCP omni and a patch vs. the RX006’s dipole/poorly performing patch, and the EV100’s dual dipoles. If it’s not obvious why this difference in range is expected, check out our basic antenna theory guide. The VR01 wins here because it matches polarization and its alternate option is directional.
The video quality is what you expect given that it’s recording an analog feed. The DVR is doing its job with what it’s given. You’re not going to get great high-quality video without an HD camera or transmitter system. It didn’t seem to capture any video on one outing when I’m sure I saw it recording, but I couldn’t cause the problem to happen again afterward.
Setup and Usage
Once you provide power, it starts up. On the bottom, there’s a control wheel that tilts left and right, but is basically three buttons. A short press in the center starts and stops recording, and a long press opens the menu. There are a few options you can control through a menu, such as NTSC vs. PAL output. You can also set up loop recording and automatic recording when the unit powers on. There’s a single button on top to change band (long press) and channel (short press). Each press is accompanied by a rather loud beep, and wrapping around to the first band or channel gives the beep a longer duration. I’m not convinced the audio feedback here is necessary but it can’t be disabled. It isn’t likely that you will be changing channels without looking at the display.
You access the internal playback mode from the menu as well, which is clunky but functional enough. One nice feature is that you can change the playback speed up to 8× in order to scan through video—an invaluable feature if you’re trying to use the footage to locate a downed quad. This works both forward and reverse. Playback controls are not particularly intuitive and I found myself often pressing the wrong button for the behavior I wanted. It’s mildly frustrating for sure, but usable. If you plan to use the onboard playback with any frequency, I suggest getting your video transmitter turned on before you start recording on the DIV006. Playback mode displays the first frame when you are selecting a file. If you only have static there, it isn’t helpful for choosing the file you want to see. A frame full of static also makes the playback OSD mostly unreadable.
The case has no mounting points. Three of its surfaces have controls, I/O, or display and the other three are completely flat. A standard tripod 1/4-20 mounting point would have been nice, or perhaps a hook or hole to thread something into. You’ll need to get a little creative. I’ve had good luck with these Nite Ize GearTies when I don’t know what I might find to mount to. There’s ample room for Velcro or double-sided tape on the back surface if that suits your fancy.
This receiver would be a great component for an elevated ground station. Sensitivity, DVR features, user experience… nothing here is groundbreaking but it all functions reasonably well (except the antennas which are no surprise). We like the squelch cancellation, having the frequency table printed on it is a great idea, and we didn’t see any reason to be concerned about reliability. But there aren’t any new or exciting features to rave about here, and the missing frequency scanning and NTSC/PAL auto-selection could be problematic for some. We’re not really sure what’s going on with audio recording; maybe it’s just our unit. And while the DVR records a nice picture, playback speed won’t necessarily match the source.
The AOMWAY, however, is considerably more expensive than the units we mentioned from Boscam and Eachine. Whether or not it’s worth the price probably comes down to features: the Boscam lacks the DVR and the Eachine has neither DVR nor diversity. That’s the sweet spot for this product—DVR and diversity for someone who doesn’t need a video monitor included.